The Dalhousie Tigers Men’s Rugby Club has been suspended pending an investigation into allegations of hazing.
The club’s two teams, which play divisions 1 and 2 within Rugby Nova Scotia’s university league, have been suspended. The university officially informed the teams of its decision on Friday.
“We take a zero-tolerance approach to these kinds of allegations as they arise,” says Dalhousie’s director of communications, Brian Leadbetter.
The school has released few details about the allegations but says it received a formal complaint from a university employee. Meanwhile, rumours are swirling around campus.
“They were forced to take shots with goldfish in them and were blindfolded,” says student Bethany Mann.
The rugby club was already on probation after a separate incident earlier this month.
“Some inappropriate activities that were tied to a recent trip,” says Leadbetter.
While suspended, the players can no longer book school facilities to practice. They can no longer wear team colours, they have lost their funding, and they are no longer insured by the school.
The school has 60 days to investigate. If it concludes that hazing did take place, the teams and individuals may face further punishment.
It makes me shake my head a little bit and people should know better,” says student Gillian McDonald.
This is the first investigation and suspension since the school’s hazing policy came into effect in June, but it is not the first incident of its kind.
The women’s varsity hockey team had their season terminated after hazing came to light in January of 2013.
“That raises a really large question which is, how do you communicate effectively with students that this kind of conduct is no longer acceptable and never was acceptable?” asks Wayne MacKay, a human rights law professor at Dalhousie University
Dalhousie officials say they met with executives from each sports club, including rugby, last March to discuss policies within the school’s sports club handbook.
CTV Atlantic contacted the team’s executives by email Monday, but they did not reply to requests for comment.
Both teams were supposed to play against St. Francis Xavier University on Saturday.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jayson Baxter